Monday, April 29, 2013

Let the good times roll

The infection that began in the desert this January is about to peak with a high fever in May. The new 29er is coming together, and it’s going to be the best mountain bike I’ve ever owned.

The wheels were born on my dining-room table yesterday afternoon after a two-hour ride with Leonard, who taught me how to lace them up and showed me how to fine-tune them. One big, sloppy mess later, I had two complete and wonderfully light wheels with tubeless tires mounted in the garage.

Let the sun shine and let the dirt dry. It’s going to be a summer of sweet rides.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stroke this

Last week I cracked an old filling in one of my molars. The dentist was happy to confirm this on Friday, but he couldn't be bothered to fix it until this morning.

It wasn't the four days of chewing on the left side of my mouth that I minded so much. It was more the pain of having 24-degree air flow over the damaged tooth whenever I rode a bike. While pedaling to work on Monday, I tried to breathe out of the left side of my mouth to divert air from the sensitive right side.

I think that at least once, someone in a passing car must have said, "Oh, honey. Look at that poor man on the bike. I think he's recovering from a stroke."

Yeah. I ride with style.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring it

I was born one American spring
When love didn't matter and the birds didn't sing
Rolled from my cradle and picked up my drum
Crawled to the highway and stuck out my thumb

—Robert Hunter

Fat-bikers are living on borrowed time in Alaska. Every week, more stumps appear beside the trail. Every day, more slush forms on the surface. Every ride on my Fatback feels like it might be the last for a while.

Fortunately, the road bike is waiting. And there's a new frame that is sure to make me smile once it's built up and the singletrack dries out. I'm looking forward to summer and dirt-stained legs.

For now, I'm just happy to have a bike that makes me mourn the loss of winter.

Monday, April 15, 2013


We ride bicycles for a variety of reasons. And for those of us who own several bikes, many of those reasons are somewhat hedonistic and selfish. We ride because it's fun, relaxing, a rush, good exercise, or whatever.

On days like this, assigning a higher purpose to a bike ride can seem a little silly. But I don't care. Tonight's ride helped me keep it together. 

I have a sister, brother-in-law and niece who were near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. If not for a minor injury that slowed her pace, my sister's time goal would have put her at the finish line at just the wrong time. After a few scary minutes, my family was fortunate enough to confirm that our loved ones were safe.

Others weren't so lucky. I read the news stories all day. I saw the photos. At least one of them will stay with me for a very long time. I wanted to forget it, at least for a few hours.

So tonight, I went into the woods with a close friend, and I rode a bike. I started to feel like I could breathe again. Then I drank some wine before the day's events started to creep back in. 

On a night like this, a ride in the woods is priceless.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Billy K's 2K

Billy K at the end of the line.
(Photos via Arctic Cycles' Facebook page)
In an epic achievement that will likely go unnoticed outside the niche community of Alaska fat-bikers, Anchorage homeboy Billy Koitzsch has completed a 2,000 mile winter bike ride that has never been done before.

First, Billy rode the Iditarod Trail to Nome. That alone would have put him in the tiny, elite group of riders who have completed that trip, but Billy then rode out of town and headed to Fairbanks, where he arrived about 40 days after his trip began.

And just in case you're tempted to think he was on a leisurely winter vacation, it should also be noted that he arrived in Fairbanks 40 pounds lighter than when he left home.

Billy, we are in awe. Eat a big hamburger, drink a big beer and enjoy a nice, warm bed for a couple of days.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Twist my nipples

Bicycling. Because what other sport allows you to walk into a store and spend five minutes talking with another guy about your nipple preferences?

Not that I need to do that.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Sit on your ass for singletrack

How many times have you been asked to get off your ass to help get something done? Well, I'm going to ask you to sit on your ass to get something done.

Earn it.
While serving as MC during Friday night's portion of the Singletrack Advocates Mountain Bike Film & Music Festival, I shamelessly stole some material from the previous night's MC, Lee Bolling, who told the crowd there are three things people need to do if they want more singletrack in Anchorage: Support, Donate and Volunteer.

The support portion begins this Thursday (April 11) at 6 p.m. at the Spenard Rec Center when Lee presents the Kincaid North Trail Project to the Parks & Rec Commission. Kincaid Park belongs to all of us, but the municipality isn't going to approve a trail construction project unless muni officials see a public demand for it.

You don't have to speak. You just have to show up and help fill the room with mountain bikers. And you can sit on your ass. The commission won't even be taking public comments on the project at Thursday's meeting. It's that simple. You just need to show up and watch, so the commission will know that Anchorage residents who ride mountain bikes support this project.

On May 9, the commission will meet again to hear public testimony and vote on the project. It will be important to show up for that one, too. But take baby steps, and start by showing up this Thursday.

When you're riding miles of new singletrack, you'll be glad you did it.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Film & Music Festival

If you don't already have tickets for Singletrack Advocates' Mountain Bike Film & Music Festival, it's way past time to scoot your ass on over to the Tap Root while there are still a few seats left.

You'll get to drink beer, eat food, enjoy bike films and live bands, as well as have a chance to bid on cool swag like Fatback frames and a week at Star Lookout on Maui.

But best of all, your money will be used to build singletrack. Sweet, flowy, fun singletrack.

Be there. Aloha.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Doo the right thing

This is bullshit.

OK, it’s a bag of dog shit. But it’s still bullshit.

I’ve observed this practice for years, but have been thinking about it more since overhearing a conversation about it at a trailhead a week or so ago. What I'm talking about is the habit some dog owners have of bagging their critters' doo, then leaving it beside the trail.

The idea, I’m told, is that they simply don’t want to carry warm turds in their pocket, so they plan to pick up the bags as they pass by on the way back to their cars. In reality, they seem to forget fairly often. Or they change routes and end up not returning for Fido’s shit. 

A couple of winters ago, someone tied the bag to a tree on Microdot, and it hung there for days. The rest of us were left with the choice of seeing the damned thing on every ride, or packing out someone else’s dog shit. Neither option was fair.

So here’s the deal, dog owners. You may feel that this practice is OK, but it’s not. You don't like the feel of warm shit in your pocket? Well boo fuckin' hoo. If your pet’s poo is too unpleasant to carry, you should leave your mutt at home.

I’m not exactly crazy about carrying an empty, sticky Gu packet in my pocket, but I don’t drop my trash on the trail and tarnish your outdoor experience by making you step past my debris until I return to pick it up. That would be lazy, rude and selfish. 

Lazy, rude and selfish people suck.

If your dog packs it in, you pack it out. Please pack it with you along the way.